"....We're here to celebrate the power of words and music to help us appreciate beauty, but also to understand pain; to inspire us to action, and to spur us on when we start to lose hope; to lift us up out of our daily existence -- even if it's just for a few moments -- and return us with hearts that are a little bit bigger and fuller than they were before. The great jazz musician, Louis Armstrong, once said simply, 'What we play is life.'"

Barack Obama during White House evening of poetry and music in 2009

In jazz, time is your friend, and when you find your own swing, or the swing time in any group activity, actual time flies, yes. But it's flying to where you want to be. And when you get there, you realize the ride is the destination. That's the joy of swinging.

Wynton Marsalis from "Moving to Higher Ground"

— Jazz is a music and a dance born out of hardship and joy, structure and improvisation, self-expression and self-sacrifice, realism and idealism.  It looks hard and long at life and then expresses it in all its joy and beauty, ugliness and pain, because it is essentially about everything which sweeps across our paths, every human experience, whether good or bad.

“What we play is life.” – Louis Armstrong said that.  We say “What we dance is life.”  The music and the dance are one.  We are an expression of the music as we move our bodies to the beat.  Playing or dancing this music is about life – learning how to feel deeply and express honestly in the moment what is deep down inside of us, sharing our own ideas whilst listening to those around us share theirs, and finding the common ground and celebrating that.

The ASF theme was influenced greatly by talks and writings by Wynton Marsalis, gifted in expressing the very heartbeat of jazz and swing in a way to shape our ideas about how to dance to this music and, in essence, how to live life.

As the incomparable Dawn Hampton so wisely urged us in her talks she gave around the world:  “Feel the beat.”  Let’s feel the beat.  That swing beat is the heartbeat of jazz and it’s the heartbeat of our dance.  After all, the heart’s rhythm is a swing beat.  It’s no wonder that we connect so viscerally to this music!

We want to think about how jazz music and dance relates to life, expresses life.  We want our teachers and musicians to share with us what jazz and swing music and dance means to their life.  We want you to do the same.  Maybe you haven’t thought about it.  Well, now’s the time.

So what does it mean to swing?  In dance and in life?  Come explore your swing dancing, your expression of life.  Contemplate how dancing and learning to move and groove to the this swinging beat tells us much about life:  freedom, communication, expression, being present, listening to others, sharing, pushing limits.

Refine your own dancing talent, and  leave the weekend inspired by the concepts and ideas we dig into, thinking about your dancing in new ways.  You’ll even have the chance to work on a routine during the themed taster track and take the stage on Sunday during our all-festival “Dance is Life” show!  Come join us!


You have dance experience and want the whole package – workshops and parties.  Choose to do workshops in either Lindy Hop or Solo Vintage Jazz .  The full pass includes 10.5 hours of classes, including 6 hours of your level and 4.5 hours of the Theme Track you choose.  Plus all the parties!

Theme Track

Part of the full pass for Lindy Hop or Solo Vintage Jazz workshops (except Curious), the Theme Track gives you a chance to explore a theme of your choice more deeply and even perform if you want!  This track mixes you with participants possibly from other Lindy Hop or Solo levels.  Most themes will work on a routine to present in the “Dance is Life” show at Sunday night’s party and at least one track will be non-routine tasters to dig deeper into the “What we dance is life” theme.


If three days of classes isn’t enough, on Thursday you can add one of a couple of workshops to make your experience even that fuller!  We’ll be having a “Solo Jazz with LaTasha” workshop and a “Bump Up Your Bal” intermediate or higher level Balboa workshop in the early afternoon.  Whether you have a full pass or a party pass, you can add this workshop to your ASF experience!



Take your first steps in Lindy Hop during Atlantic Swing Festival!  6 hours of classes to get you started.  Classes are Saturday and Sunday afternoons –  time to be confirmed.  You can choose to do a Workshop Pass for classes only, but we suggest the Weekend Pass for the classes AND parties in order to get the full experience.  Participants in past years who’ve done the full weekend got involved in the dance community in Lisbon right away and are still dancing now!

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Festas de Lisboa